By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Various media outlets have reported Israel’s takeover of the Zaytouna, one of the Women’s boats bound for Gaza, led by women and aimed at breaking the siege and deliver much needed aid to the enclave.
The connection with the boat and women on board was cut according to the international campaign to end Gaza’s siege. Zahir Albirawi of freedom boat, “The connection with the boat has been cut off for the last 40 minutes.” His announcement came minutes before media outlets have announced Israel’s takeover of the boat.
The Zaytouna was supposed to be joined by Amal, another women-led boat, which could complete its journey as it suffered technical problems two days ago.
— Free Gaza Movement (@freegazaorg) October 5, 2016
According to tweets from the Women’s Boat to Gaza, the boat has been surrounded by the Israeli Navy and it is expected that the Captain, US Army Colonel Ann Wright, will be urged to turn the Zaytouna around before she enters Gaza’s Israeli occupied water and risks being intercepted by the navy and its crew detained.
The Zaytouna is currently in international waters with a crew of 13 international activists on board.
Thousands of Gazans have been waving Palestinian flags along the beach in preparation for the Zaytouna’s arrival and in solidarity with the peace activists who hoped to break the decade-long blockade on the Strip and breathe hope to those living in the enclave.
The Israeli Navy is expected to lead the Zaytouna to the port of Ashdod, north of the Gaza Strip, where the women will be handed over to authorities, questioned and deported.
The Israeli army has refused to comment on the reports saying a statement will be released in due course.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been waiting for the boat to break the siege. In 2010, Israel took over the Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, in the international waters, killing 10 Turkish activists on board.
Attempts to break the siege have never stopped despite Israel not allowing any ship sailing to Gaza from reaching the besieged population since then.